Thursday, July 20, 2017

Robert T. Germaux ~ guest post and his novel One by One

Print Length: 342 pages
Publisher: Robert Germaux (May 26, 2017)
Publication Date: May 26, 2017
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

The victims appear to have had nothing in common, other than the fact that, as one officer put it, somebody wanted them dead. And that somebody left a “clue” at each crime scene, but as those clues began to accumulate, Detective Daniel Hayes and his hand-picked squad soon discovered that the clues appeared to have even less in common than did the victims. In order to catch his prey, Daniel realizes he has to change his focus and concentrate on an entirely different aspect of the case by following a twisting trail that eventually leads to a face-to-face encounter with the killer.

Guest Post/Author Interview

Please tell us about One by One
This is a very frustrating case for Daniel and his squad. There are multiple victims who appear to have almost nothing in common, and although the killer leaves a “clue” at each crime scene, those clues likewise appear to be completely disconnected from each other. It’s only through hard work and determination that Daniel and his colleagues eventually realize that they need to change their focus in order to catch the killer.

Since One by One is your follow-up novel to Small Talk, what new character developments can readers expect from main character Daniel Hayes and his team?
We learn more about Daniel’s previous life as a professional athlete, and we meet a journalist who covered Daniel in that life, a man whose skills Daniel calls upon to assist the police in their hunt for the killer. In addition, we follow Daniel’s developing relationship with bookstore owner Lauren Cavanaugh.

In Small Talk you got inside the killer’s head using a duel POV. Can readers expect something similar in One by One?
In Small Talk, Daniel and his squad had an idea who their killer was fairly early on in the case. The problem they faced was proving their suspect was actually the killer. Thus, a major part of the plotline in that book involved the way Daniel and the killer interacted with each other, which is why I used the killer’s POV occasionally. In One by One, though, the squad has no idea who their killer is until near the end of the story, so the emphasis is on the hunt for that person as opposed to any interactions the killer has with Daniel.

Where do your story ideas come from?
Everywhere! It doesn’t take much to ignite a spark in my fertile imagination. Sometimes I have to do a lot of research, as was the case with both Small Talk and One by One, because to the best of my knowledge, my social circle has never included any serial killers. But in Leaving the LAW, a Jeremy Barnes novel I’ll be releasing in the future, I relied heavily on my experiences teaching in an inner-city Pittsburgh high school that the police called Gang Central.

What do you think makes a good suspenseful mystery?
The answer, in part, lies in your question. Suspense. I like to read books that keep me guessing. Along with that, I think readers have to be involved with the characters in a novel, to care about what happens to those characters, even the bad ones. I want the good guys to win and the bad guys to lose.

Ellen Tishler was killed in her home in Hampton Township, about twelve miles north of Pittsburgh, but still within Allegheny County. My team works out of Zone 3 in the city, so in the normal course of events, we wouldn’t have had anything to do with the case. We were called in because the chief of police in Hampton thought it might be something SAS should be handling.

The chief’s name was Benjamin Roberts. He was a shade under six feet, with dark hair cut very short and the beginnings of a little potbelly, but still in good shape for a guy chasing sixty. His uniform was neat and clean, his tie perfectly knotted, his shoes spit-shined. Ex-military, I was guessing. Roberts had a reputation for being old school all the way. He even conducted inspections at the start of most shifts. He also had a reputation as one of the sharpest cops in the county.

It was three o’clock on a sunny September afternoon when Henry and I arrived at the two-story brick colonial on Edgerton Drive in the upper-middle class neighborhood. The chief greeted us at the door.

“Ben Roberts,” he said, shaking my hand. “Thanks for coming, Detective Hayes.”

“It’s Daniel,” I told him. “And this is my partner, Henry Reynolds.”

Roberts nodded at Henry, then motioned for us to enter the house.

“I appreciate you gentlemen driving out here,” he said. “I hope I’m not wasting your time.”

“You’re not,” I said. The three of us were standing in a small foyer. I could hear people talking and moving around in what I assumed was the living room, down the short hallway and to the left.

“When you called,” I said, “you indicated you thought this might be a case for the Special Assignments Squad.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Crime scene’s got kind of a weird look to it. My department doesn’t handle many major crimes, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t your run-of-the-mill homicide. Anyway, c’mon in and have a look.” He led us down the hall and around the corner, and Henry and I got our first look at Ellen.

If it wasn’t for the small hole in the middle of her forehead, it would have been easy to assume that she had simply dozed off while reading that month’s issue of Beautiful Homes, which was lying on the floor next to the large floral-patterned wingchair. Ellen was slumped in the chair, her head tilted to one side, her right hand dangling over the armrest. Her eyes were closed, and there was no noticeable blood.

“Small caliber,” I said. “Maybe a twenty-two.”

Roberts nodded and said, “That’s what I was thinking. Probably a revolver.”

“So no shell casings,” I said.

“And no exit wound,” said Roberts. “Bullet must have bounced around in her head a bit. We’ll find what’s left of it at autopsy.” He shrugged. “Might not be enough to identify or match. We’ll see.”

Henry and I stood for a minute to take in the scene. Ellen appeared to be in her mid-to-late seventies. She was wearing an expensive-looking dark green pants suit, with low-heeled brown shoes. Her white hair was nicely coiffed, as though she’d recently been to a salon, and there was a string of pearls around her neck. I doubted if this was how she dressed for an afternoon at home.

“Who found the body?” I said.

“Next door neighbor, woman named Alice Cloakley. She and the deceased were supposed to go out for lunch today. Ms. Cloakley came over around noon, found the front door ajar, came in and discovered the body.”

“Ms. Cloakley still around?” asked Henry.

Roberts nodded towards the back of the house.

“She’s on the patio. I figured you’d want to talk to her.” He paused, shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “There’s something else. It’s the main reason I contacted you.”

He’d been carrying a large plastic evidence bag, and now he held it up for Henry and me to see.

“We found this on the body.


Both my parents were readers. I'm talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it's no surprise that an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places. And although I've always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn't fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia's idea was a good one. Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes, including "Hard Court." Along the way, I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write "The Backup Husband," the plot line of which came to me one day when I was playing the What-if game. On that particular day, the question that occurred to me was, What if a woman suddenly realized she might be in love with two wonderful men? After "The Backup Husband," I wrote "Small Talk," my first novel about Pittsburgh police detective Daniel Hayes. I then switched gears again with "Grammar Sex (and other stuff)," a book of humorous essays. Now I’m back with "One by One," the second Daniel Hayes mystery, which will be released on June 1st. You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), seeing Broadway plays and musicals, watching reruns of our favorite TV shows, such as "Sports Night" and "The Gilmore Girls," and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we've been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and enjoy a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my stories and characters. Please feel free to contact me on my website. 
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